Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Ervin Santana: 'I'm a home-run pitcher'
By Mark Saxon
Ervin Santana is giving up home runs at an alarming pace, but he and manager Mike Scioscia shrug it off.
ANAHEIM -- The Angels' 6-5 loss to the New York Yankees didn't seem to portend a dramatic shift in momentum, even if it snuffed out the team's longest winning streak in three years.
If anything, it felt like a continuation of their offensive resurgence and their newfound ability to battle back. They did, after all, fall behind 5-1 in the third inning before rallying to tie the score.
But that brings us to the part of the evening that was a bit troublesome given its connection with a season-long trend: Ervin Santana is giving up home runs as if they're on markdown. During his tortured, 48-pitch third inning, Santana allowed long balls to Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano.
Those were the 14th and 15th home runs Santana has allowed this season, most in the majors. The next guy on the list, is Texas' Colby Lewis, who pitches here Friday night.
Is it a problem? Depends who's asked. Angels manager Mike Scioscia and Santana essentially shrugged it off.
"I'm a home-run pitcher," Santana said. "I'm a power pitcher and, if they make good contact, that's where it's going to end up."
Scioscia worries that if Santana abandons his aggressive style, it will only lead to further troubles. The only thing worse than giving up a home run is giving up a couple of walks in front of a home run. Scioscia called Santana's propensity to give up deep fly balls a "byproduct of challenging guys."
"He has much more success when he stays aggressive in the zone," Scioscia said.
That may be true, but something isn't adding up. Santana is 2-6 with a 4.78 ERA and he's on a pace to shatter his season high for home runs, 27 in 2010. Scioscia says he thinks it's about commanding his pitches in and out.
"In Seattle, he wasn't himself and tonight he wasn't able to repeat pitches the way he needed to," Scioscia said.
The Angels are scoring runs, at last. Their bullpen is a totally different entity than it was a few weeks ago.
And their starting pitching has remained stout, but it could quickly become a concern with Jered Weaver on the disabled list, rookie Garrett Richards stepping into the fray and with Santana continuing to struggle. Yes, he has pitched better in his previous four starts -- and allowed only two home runs in that stretch -- but he was facing Oakland, San Diego and Seattle, so grade it on a curve.
All the scrutiny earlier this season was on Albert Pujols' inability to hit a home run. If this continues, it will shift to Santana's inability to stop them.